I’m really excited to share my 4-year-old daughter’s current favorite set of books, Shapes Chinese Books 形状万花筒. We LOVE this series!!! After we finished reading Sagebooks Beginner 500, Greenfield I Can Read Series, and 四五快读, this paperback has been excellent for reading practice. The text is very large and not daunting to my daughter. In addition, the stories are cute and interesting. Each story begins with a dilemma and concludes with an inspiring quote. As a non-fluent parent, I was able to read and understand most of the reading with my limited Chinese proficiency. For my daughter, most of the books had only a few unfamiliar or forgotten Chinese characters, so she feels confident about reading most of the book without help.
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Title: Shapes Chinese Books 形状万花筒
- Volume 1: 9789810867812
- Volume 2: 9789810875695
- Volume 3: 9789810875794
Author: Tu, Yiling. Su, Zhaorong.
Publisher: Singapore 桃源媒体公司, 2010
Type: Picture books, readers
Age: 3-7 years
Language: Simplified Chinese, pinyin, English
Where to buy:
Shapes Chinese Books 形状万花筒 Review
Why we love this set
- Large characters for easy word recognition
- Only a few sentences per page
- Occasional pinyin for more challenging words and idioms
- Illustrations and text are on separate pages so that children and focus better on each element
- Colorful, cute, and creative illustrations made of different shapes! My daughter enjoys seeing the different shapes in the pictures!
- Moral at the end of each story
- Full pinyin guide and English translation at the end of the book. Therefore, the pinyin and English do not distract from Chinese text
- No page numbers
- No system of introducing new and old Chinese characters, seems random
- Poor DVD quality; DVD works on regional player only and shows 1 sample only. The publisher’s YouTube channel, Peach Blossom Media, has 39 videos about these books…but they are in English and Spanish only! I was disappointed that they did not have the stories in Chinese.
- A few of the animals are too cartoonish and are thus not recognizable. For example, in one story, a beaver, racoon, and frog are pictured as gray, brown, and orange-colored animals, respectively. Since I was not previously familiar with their Chinese names, I kept getting the beaver and the racoon mixed up due to their inaccurate color. In another story, egret birds are depicted in various pastel colors despite being white in real life. I had to find photographs from other books and even Google to teach my daughter what these animals really look like! However, both of my kids, including my 18 month old son, were able to name most of the animals.
- Websites listed on the books do not work!! I also tried emailing the company, but the email bounced back to me.
Although the 3 volumes are labeled as different levels, we did not think that the 3rd volume was significantly more difficult than the 1st and 2nd volumes. However, we did learn new phrases and idioms that we don’t use in our everyday language!
- Volume 1 – Friendship and Kindness 友爱互助
The Grumpy Tree爱发脾气的大树
The Orangutan and the Monkeys猩猩和猴子
The Kangaroo and Wombat袋鼠和袋熊
The Ant and the Chrysalis蚂蚁和蝶=蛹
The Teal Deer蓝色的小鹿
The Lion and the Mouse狮子和老鼠
- Volume 2 – Use Your Intelligence 多动脑筋
The Fox and the Tiger狐狸和老鼠
The Clever Tortoise聪明的乌龟
The Fox and the Crab狐狸和螃蟹
The Moose and the Fly驼鹿和苍蝇
The Cat and the Mouse老鼠和猫
- Volume 3 – Look Before You Leap 三思而行
Barn Mouse and Country Mouse野鼠和家鼠
The Mischievous Tiger顽皮的小老虎
The Playful Flies贪玩的小苍蝇
The Beaver’s Dam河狸筑坝
The Moose and the Fly三条鲶鱼
The Cat and the Mouse狼来了
Below are pictures of the inside of the book. For comparison, the top book is volume 1 and the bottom is volume 3. Note that the text is very large and on a separate page from the illustration.
Below is an example of the moral of the story and the English translation reference page.
The last two pages of the books have simplified Chinese with full pinyin support. This last page is great practice for me to make sure my tones are accurate. My daughter has not yet learned pinyin, so she does not use this page.
Here is another picture of the full set of books!
Here are the books stacked together!
In summary, I highly recommend Shapes Chinese Books 形状万花筒 for children!
To see more Chinese children’s book recommendations, click here!
For tips on how to encourage more Chinese reading throughout the day, click here!
Happy reading, friends!